What Is a Vestibular Migraine?
Approximately 40% of people with migraines experience a vertigo episode at some point in their lives. Vestibular migraines (VMs) are episodes of dizziness or vertigo in people with a history of migraines.
“Episodes can range from lightheadedness or cloudiness, to abnormal sensations of motion, to spinning,” says Northwestern Medicine Neurologist Katherine S. Carroll, MD. Dr. Carroll is also the director of the Comprehensive Headache Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “There can be a pattern to it. These episodes can come and go throughout the course of having migraines.”
Episodes can last for a few hours per day, or consist of low-level dizziness that goes on for days, weeks or months.
Hypersensitivity in the brain stem is believed to be the mechanism that causes VMs. VM triggers are essentially the same things that may trigger migraines:
- Sleep disruptions
- Lack of exercise
- Genetic predisposition
Treatment options include:
- Lifestyle modifications
- Migraine preventive medications
- Vestibular physical therapy or rehabilitation
“If you have migraines and are experiencing dizziness, VMs are something you should be aware of and talk to your physician about,” adds Dr. Carroll.